One year ago today the NBA Board of Governors voted against the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen.
Despite the fact that it was my anniversary I spent most of that day on the air with Ian Furness at Sports Radio KJR. By the time I returned home to my wife I was drained but oddly happy that the whole thing was over. We had a nice dinner, I drank 3 glasses of wine and she drove home. The healing and regrouping started immediately.
The months leading up to that vote were a draining experience, with lots going on that will likely never be publicized. I had done everything I could to monitor the situations on the ground here in Seattle and also in Sacramento where I had a good pre-existing relationship with the government and other fan organizations. Lots and lots of time was spent talking with friends in the national media and at league offices trying to figure out which of the two narratives was real. Since day one there had been a narrative that Chris Hansen had made mistakes in his approach and that David Stern valued the political clout of the California state capital and would not allow a move. Other people stated that David Stern was spreading that narrative but that he was on his way out, did not have the votes and that the Seattle value proposition was so much better for the league that the owners were already on board in making it happen.
I learned a lot about people in the months that Hansen was going to bring the Kings here. When people think (inaccurately) that you are on the same team with a billionaire and that you are going to be associated with the hot new ticket in town their real motivations come out. I could not believe how many friends wanted things from me and were angry if I could not help them. I was stunned at how many people sent me their resume's, begged me to get them a job with the franchise or bought me lunch trying to sell me on ideas they wanted me to sell to Hansen.
I learned who my real friends are.
It has been an interesting year watching everybody pick up the pieces. I know that Chris Hansen had some of the same issues I had. I had spent hundreds of hours on the Sonics issue, neglected my business and family and generally straining everything to its limit. When you find yourself a small part of a billion dollar deal with so much at stake every detail seems important, every small nuance worth worrying about.
It was all supposed to have been worth it because I could look at my wife, kids, staff and partners and say "It will all be done after the vote." I painted a picture of coming through the hardship and onto good times, going to games with Chris and his family, having an amazing year highlighted by an emotional opening night. There would actually be a franchise with all of its staff and infrastructure coming into town and they could pick up the hard work of building and retaining interest.
Instead the message was "the fight goes on."
How long? I don't know
Is there still hope? I don't know that either.
Every action I took in the months following that outcome was subject to second guessing. Everybody who had been involved in franchise acquisition went dark as they got their businesses and family lives straightened out and licked their wounds a little bit.
It has been a good year since then. After some months of silence people re-engaged and bonded the way people only can when they have suffered defeat together. I don't talk to those guys often but when I do I get the sense that everybody is back on their feet, business is strong and we have come through it better than ever.
I am totally proud of this community, the leadership, writers and readers for dealing with about the toughest situation I can imagine and coming through with pragmatism and friendship. The staff here have done a better job than I ever could have of steering the conversation towards basketball and getting me hooked on the game again.
On a personal level it has been so affirming that the people around me valued my commitment and work ethic more than they did the outcome. We didn't get the team but I get recognized every day by people who appreciate that we tried hard.
I'm thankful that the Seattle Seahawks and their ownership thought enough of me to be the first client of my new consulting company which is off to a great start.
I appreciate that so many sports fans and members of my Arena Solution team have continued to support and empower me politically.
I cannot believe how much money we raised for education and youth this year.
After the team left in 2008 I thought I was a loser and a failure but somehow managed to find support and love in our community. To have that happen a second time is amazing. I love being a Sonics fan and want to thank you guys. Its the anniversary of a really dark day but I would not change my life for anything.
I love being a Sonics fan. We make chicken soup out of chicken shit better than any group out there. Thank you for the friendship and amazing experiences.